Northern Cape gets new R1,5bn manganese mine

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Kudumane Manganese Resources (KMR) launched its new mine just outside Hotazel, in the Northern Cape.

A new manganese mine, Kudumane Manganese, is opening in the Northern Cape, with the R1,5bn project forecast to reach initial production of 1,5-million tons a year towards the end of 2013.

Kudumane, which is 49% owned by Hong Kong-based Asia Minerals, the project's technical and marketing partner, will ramp up to two-million tons a year and then 2,5-million tons as mining moves underground. The mine will employ 300 people.

Two empowerment companies, Bold Moves and NWC Manganese, own 51% stakes in two groups called Dirleton Minerals & Energy and Northern Cape Manganese, with the balance held by Asia Minerals.

Dirleton and Northern Cape Manganese, which own equal shares in Kudumane Manganese Resources, the mining company, were granted joint prospecting rights to six farms near Hotazel in the Northern Cape in 2006. Kudumane is chaired by Zwelakhe Sisulu.

SA is home to the largest known manganese deposits in the world, but infrastructural constraints have meant it only supplies about a third of global demand for the ingredient used in stainless steel manufacturing.

"This needs to change and we want to contribute to that change," Kudumane CEO Sechaba Letaba said at the launch of the mine. Mr Letaba once worked as the senior general manager at Assmang's manganese mine near Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

The mine, with its 30-year life, will use rail and road transport to send ore to Port Elizabeth for the export market and will ultimately use the Coega port.

Asia Minerals has experience in mining and marketing manganese and will take responsibility for selling it globally.

Kudumane wants to build a sintering plant to improve the value of the manganese it is selling.